their retreat, if they should have to back out. I also another down the ridge to act in three directions, and catch those who, driven from Crowley's Ridge, come across in dug-outs to the islands or the main land.
I shall, by preventing their collection of supplies and breaking up their scattered camps in this way, do them much damage.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. DISTRICT NORTHWESTERN MISSOURI,
Saint Joseph, March 25, 1863.
Major H. Z. CURTIS,
Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of the Missouri, Saint Louis, Mo.:
SIR: I have the honor to report that, since my return to this post, I have information from all parts of the district, confirming the reports which I had previously heard of preparations being made by the rebels to rise during the spring. Much evidence on this subject has been forwarded to the provost-marshal-general at Saint Louis, and can be furnished to the general commanding the department by that office. Letters and reports of spies all have the same purport. An extensive secret organization, for the overthrow of the Federal power, exists in the counties upon the southern boundary of Iowa, in Kansas, Nebraska, in this district, and south of the Missouri River. Price is expected to re-enter this State in force, coming through the Indian country, and, when he is within striking distance, a simultaneous movement of the rebels in the localities above named is to be made; first, to obtain arms and ammunition, and, next, either to possess themselves of the country or force their way through to Price. Everything favors such a movement. The United States forces in this district consist of my own infantry regiment, about 400 strong; two companies of the First Colorado Cavalry, under orders to proceed to Fort Leawenworth, and some recruits for partly mounted. A large portion of the Enrolled Militia are disloyal; but few of them are in active service, and those are so employed guarding their armories as not to be movable. The Governor has just ordered out of active service the companies of the Saint Joseph regiment here. I have no power to call into active service any of the militia, and those now in service can be withdrawn by the State authorities at any moment.
The arms of the militia are stored for the most part at the county seats or principal towns of the different counties, and are so feebly guarded that they would fall an easy prey to any considerable force of rebels.
I need cavalry here, good, well-trained cavalry, to strike before the rebels' plans are fully matured.
I send out a scout of 50 of the Colorado cavalry to-morrow, to proceed to the Iowa line and apprehend several rebel recruiting officers whose names I have.
I respectfully suggest that the Governor of Iowa be requested to put his militia on the border into the field, for the lower tier of counties in that State is full of refugees and recruits for the South.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHESTER HARDING, Jr.,
Colonel, Commanding District of Northwestern Missouri.